Medical campus as economic driver: Maximizing the benefits to an urban community
Smith, William B.
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The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) is seen by local institutions, public officials, and urban planners as being a major catalyst for economic development in the surrounding community. While the BNMC has had some significant impacts on the regional economy, the often deteriorating urban fabric and poor market conditions in areas immediately surrounding the campus have remained mostly unaffected by its presence. This issue is not only significant in regards to improving the quality of life and economic mobility of the surrounding neighborhoods, but in the ability of the BNMC to function as a world-class medical campus by providing a high quality of services and amenities to its employees, students, patients, and visitors. The purpose of this study is to determine the measures that the BNMC can take to improve the quality of its campus surroundings, and the ways in which the local community can work with the needs of the BNMC to capture those economic opportunities that the campus presents. The following will begin by reviewing the literature on the relationship between an urban medical campus and the surrounding neighborhood, while looking at some general concepts of urban revitalization and a case study from a comparable city. The report will then provide specific recommendations for how to maximize the local economic benefits of the BNMC based on an in depth analysis of the campus and community conditions. The study will identify the existing assets and needs of the BNMC and surrounding community through an examination of urban context, access, planning policies, land use, business climate, demographics, and cultural attributes. The study will analyze current projects and planning efforts of the BNMC as well as employee behaviors in order to identify areas and opportunities for maximizing the economic benefits of the campus. Economic niches and strategic investment areas will also be identified through two methods of inquiry: an inventory of the market and land use activities occurring both on the BNMC and within the surrounding community, and a geospatial examination of economic clusters and corridors, vacant and contiguous parcels, and other attributes using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In order for the benefits of campus development to be maximized in the surrounding community, stronger physical, economic, programmatic, and political connections between the BNMC and the neighborhoods need to be created and maintained. Taking steps to improve these various connections involves constantly reexamining a complex array of socioeconomic and physical factors affecting the quality of life for those living, working, healing, and learning in the area. Campus and community stakeholders therefore must communicate and collaborate effectively in order to drive development in a direction that is congruent with a unified vision of the campus and community as a whole.